McDonald’s, citing “the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” announced Tuesday it will temporarily close 850 locations in Russia.
The decision came nearly two weeks after Russian forces invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor.
CEO Chris Kempczinski wrote in a letter to franchisees and employees that the chain will pause all operations in Russia. However, it will continue to pay its 62,000 Russian employees, and its Ronald McDonald House Charities will continue to operate.
In recent days, the fast-food giant has drawn criticism for staying silent on the war, given its relatively large Russian footprint.
McDonald’s restaurants in Russia and Ukraine account for 2% of its systemwide sales, roughly 9% of its revenue, and 3% of its operating income.
McDonald’s has long played a symbolic role in Russia as well. The chain opened its first location in the Soviet Union 32 years ago in Moscow, months before the state collapsed.
About 84% of McDonald’s Russian locations are owned by the company, while the rest are operated by franchisees. Owning more of its restaurants generates greater revenue for the company, but opens it up to greater risk in times of turmoil or economic downturn.